Iran Quds Force commander visited Erbil to meet KDP officials

Iran’s commander of Quds Force Brigadier General Esmail Qaani visited Erbil on Sunday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, as negotiations continue on the formation of a new government in Baghdad.

Qaani discussed the formation of a new Iraqi government with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) officials.

The Iranian commander’s visit comes as Iraqi parties are negotiating to form the largest parliamentary bloc and a new government in Baghdad.

Earlier on Monday, KDP leader Masoud Barzani released a statement saying he had proposed a “political initiative” to resolve issues and provide a suitable environment for the political process in Iraq.

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, a KDP deputy leader, and Iraqi parliament’s speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi visited Najaf to meet with Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the biggest winner in the Oct. 10 election which dealt a crushing blow to the Iran camp.

“I hope that this initiative will have positive results and be in the interest of Iraq and all of its components,” Barzani said in a statement.

The Sadrist Movement led by Sadr wants to form a national majority government while the Coordination Framework, including Iran-backed parties, prefers a consensus government.

No single party holds an outright majority, so the next leader will be voted in by whichever coalition can negotiate allies to become the biggest bloc — which then elects Iraq’s president, who then appoints a prime minister.

In previous parliaments, parties from Iraq’s Shia majority have struck compromise deals to work together and form a government, with an unofficial system whereby the prime minister is Shia, the president is a Kurd and the speaker of parliament is Sunni.

But Sadr, who once led an anti-U.S. militia and who opposes all foreign interference, has repeatedly said the next prime minister will be chosen by his movement.

So rather than strike an alliance with the powerful Shia Coordination Framework — which includes the pro-Iran al-Fateh alliance, the political arm of the former paramilitary Hashed al-Shaabi — Sadr has forged a new coalition.

That includes two Sunni parties, Taqadum and Azm, as well as the KDP.

On January 9, Sadrist movement, together with Sunni Taqaddum alliance and Kurds, re-elected Mohammed al-Halbousi as parliament speaker.

Parliament must in the coming days choose the country’s president, who will call on the largest parliamentary alliance to form a government, a process that will be dominated by the Sadrist Movement whoever it chooses to work with.

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